Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a stranding hotspot for critically endangered sea turtles. The geography of the Cape is such that it juts out into the ocean and acts as a hook that traps southbound migrating sea turtles. Once they are trapped in the arm of Cape Cod they are exposed to decreasing water temperatures and as reptiles can’t regulate their own body temperatures. They suffer from cold stunning, a form of hypothermia. They become lethargic and unresponsive and are at the mercy of the surf until they drift ashore. In a typical year 150-300 sea turtles strand on Cape Cod.
For unknown reasons the 2014-2015 Cape Cod sea turtle stranding season has been unprecedented with at least 1,235 sea turtles, mostly critically endangered Kemp’s Ridleys, stranding on the beaches of Cape Cod. Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary led the herculean efforts to rescue and recover all cold-stunned turtles from the beaches. The New England Aquarium triaged all live turtles and worked with NOAA Fisheries to place turtles into long-term rehabilitation in facilities from Massachusetts to Texas.
The National Marine Life Center (NMLC) admitted a total of 32 sea turtles – three times the number of sea turtles ever admitted at once. Caring for this number of animals has been an extraordinary effort, both physically and financially. After three long months of rehabilitation, fourteen of these turtles are finally approved for release. Since local water temperatures are much too cold for the turtles at this time of year, Larry Bird, Hugh, Anchor, Otto, Rocky, Seamore, Rebecca, Anteia, Fiona, Mac, Sarah Olivia, Don Miguel, Snout, & Paddles will be released at Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna Beach, FL on Friday, March 6, 2015.
Caring for this number of animals at once has exhausted many of the center’s resources. In order to offset the cost of transporting the turtles to Florida’s warmer waters, the National Marine Life Center is asking for your help. Although they do have a truck they use for local transports, the truck bed is not climate controlled and therefore not suitable for transporting these endangered, temperature dependent reptiles across the country. NMLC must rent a vehicle for the transport, and funds raised through this campaign will directly support the rental vehicle, insurance, gas, and overnight accommodations for staff and volunteers escorting the turtles to release. We are are asking for your help to raise the funds to get these animals to the warm Florida waters for their release date. Click Here to help support the National Marine Life Center’s 2015 Ride to Release.
Your donation will help these critically endangered animals return to their population! Each animal returned to the wild plays a role in the conservation of a species. With a donation of $10 or more will come with the chance to win* the naming rights for the one remaining un-named turtle in the NMLC 2014-2015 Cold stun strand class (#63). (*winner determined by a drawing)
Donations , gas cards, or visa gift cards can be accepted on site Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm at 120 Main St, Buzzards Bay 02532 or mailed to PO Box 269, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532. You can also support the rehabilitation of the 2014-2015 strand class with the purchase of a commemorative “Kempocolypse” t-shirt with artwork designed by Lori Hunt and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center online or onsite.
Thank you for your support.